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Hotel Mobile Ordering & Room Service Software Articles

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How Hotel Tech Can Help with Labor Shortages

by
Sarah Duguay
1 month ago

As travel opens up, so comes a surge of travel. Pent-up desire for holidays has resulted in what some are calling ‘revenge travel.’ After some hesitation, hoteliers are reporting more demand than ever since the beginning of the pandemic. This has resulted in a challenging scenario. Before COVID-19, the hospitality industry was no stranger to employee retention and acquisition issues. But suddenly, faced with low bookings, many hotels had to make the difficult decision to lay off staff. Fast forward to today, some hotels have been forced to turn away guests because of even greater staff shortages than before. While theories abound about shortages, accompanied by HR strategies to attract new hotel employees, we’re here to remind you to take a deep breath because hotel tech is here to help! Tried and true, existing hotel tech can help your hotel with labor shortages by making operations more efficient and less time-consuming while improving the guest experience.   PMS Features and Integrations Alleviate Hotel Labor Shortages According to Revinate, 95% of hoteliers are facing a staff shortage while occupancy is experiencing record highs. One hotel in their report said their shortage has them operating with only 70-75% of their staffing levels. This is the norm, not the outlier, in today’s market. But, as many independent hotels learned during the pandemic, those with a cloud-based property management system (PMS) already have a leg-up on their ability to streamline operations and maximize staff. Because, as the name implies, cloud-based PMS exist in the ‘cloud’ (they run online), operators can manage their hotels from anywhere at any time. Hotel managers no longer need to drop everything and dash back to the hotel to deal with accounting issues or make rate changes. Front-desk duties, such as group management and availability calendars, or back-office tasks, like rate management and financials, are all at your fingertips, wherever you are.   Automation. Nothing streamlines operations like automated systems! At the heart of operations, the PMS automatically coordinates reservations, inventory and availability, housekeeping, and reporting, centralizing data to streamline front- and back-office tasks. For example, instead of manually sending routine emails to guests, set up and send templated emails from your PMS automatically based on defined triggers for booking confirmation, pre-arrival, check-in and post-stay communications, waitlists, group bookings, rental agreements, and more.  A cloud PMS is easily integrated with your other hotel systems — including payment gateways, OTAs, point-of-sale systems, locking systems, CRMs, and revenue management software, etc. — to automatically share relevant reservation data with those systems so that staff don’t have to manually re-enter information into multiple systems. System integration with your PMS at the core is an important part of automating processes and maximizing efficiency.   Self Check-in: Let guests jump the queue with online registration and self check-ins — saving you time and resources in the process. Typically, hotel guest check-ins — with forms to sign and policies to review — take around five minutes per guest and often result in queues, occupying your front desk staff and frustrating guests. By moving this process online, all agreements, waivers, screening, and guest information collection is completed online by your guests in advance of arriving at the hotel, improving the guest experience by not having to wait in a physical queue, while simultaneously saving staff a lot of time! With automated email or SMS communications, payment gateway and mobile key integration, the entire check-in process can be automated.   Rate Management: Flexible rate management tools make monitoring and adjusting pricing a cinch, from creating group discounts and package rates to instant overrides. Yield management functionality allows you to automatically adjust prices based on predetermined occupancy rules — talk about a time saver! If you haven’t already added a commission-free online booking engine (OBE) to your property’s website, this is your first order of business. Integrated with the PMS, reservations made by guests using the OBE are automatically updated in the PMS, and live rates and availability are always displayed online. Not only will you save valuable employee time from taking reservations by phone and email but today’s guests expect (and many even prefer) to book online. While OTAs are a great way for guests to find you and book online, why not offer your own online bookings and save on commissions? Speaking of OTAs, you’ll also save time by integrating your OTA channels or channel manager with your PMS to synchronize live inventory, rates and availability across channels, instead of managing each separately. Plus, all reservations coming through your channel partners are automatically updated in your PMS so no matter where guests book, they always have access to up-to-date availability. Integrating your PMS with your online distribution channels is a must for maximizing time and preventing overbooking.    Housekeeping reports: While a PMS cannot perform housekeeping duties, it can make housekeeping processes more efficient, which is essential with a lean staff. With a mobile housekeeping report, staff can check their housekeeping schedule using their own mobile phones, to see which rooms are vacated and ready to be cleaned and to mark rooms as clean as they go, adding housekeeping notes and maintenance alarms as required. The front desk is kept in the loop in real time with the same system. Furthermore, checklists for each room keep staff on track to ensure nothing is overlooked — because as you know, when it comes to cleanliness, guest standards are higher than ever before due to the pandemic.   Mobile keys: Keyless entry is an elegant accompaniment to online registrations and check-ins. While it may seem small, keyless entry technology removes the headache of keys altogether, whether it’s actual keys or cards. No more sanitizing, organizing, re-setting, or distributing. With keyless entry system integration with your PMS, guests can simply unlock their room door with their mobile device. Along with online check-ins, keyless entry integration allows guests to bypass the front desk altogether! Imagine no guest lineups at the designated check-in time and no key drop-offs at check-out. Did we just hear a sigh of relief?   Save time, resources, and money by employing smart room technologies. Allowing guests to adjust room temperature and lighting with their phones puts comfort into the palm of their hands. Better still, IoT offers the ultimate in personalization with room light levels that adjust with the time of day, and keeps the room temperature at exactly the right level — automatically. This kind of efficiency decreases demand on housekeeping and maintenance teams and helps with your sustainability initiatives.    Chatbots: Hotel Chatbots are an excellent way to assist your online guests 24/7 without any extra effort from staff. Integrated with your hotel's website and/or within your guest messaging app, an AI or rules-based chatbot can assist guests with booking, requests, FAQs, upsells, and local recommendations. Younger generations are the most comfortable seeking help from chatbots, with many guests preferring to search for answers this way than connecting with a real human — which frees up your human employees for in-person help.   Robot room service: A couple of years ago, robot room service was exclusively seen as a novelty service to delight guests. But in the age of COVID-19, it’s obvious to see the practical utility of employing robots by reducing human contact (and thus germs) and by reducing the need for bellhops. Because labor shortage is a trend that existed even before the pandemic hit, perhaps investing in robot room service is no longer pie in the sky. Isn’t technology an amazing thing? Instead of providing a lack of care or impersonal service (a common fear about using technology), today’s hotel tech provides hoteliers with a way to upgrade the guest experience even in the face of decreased staffing. If your property does not have one already, a robust and innovative cloud PMS like WebRezPro can set you on the path toward hospitality excellence and higher revenue, not to mention less stress.  

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QR Code Menus: A Step-By-Step Guide for Hotels & Restaurants

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Searching for ways to engage with guests in the post-pandemic world? Looking to streamline your restaurant operations? Or just curious to dig into the data and learn more about your customers’ ordering behavior? QR code menus offer solutions for all of these needs, and they’re rapidly growing in popularity in all types of hospitality businesses, from hotels and restaurants to concert venues and sports arenas. Perhaps you’ve even used a contactless menu as a customer! QR code menus bring a lot of benefits that physical menus don't provide, so you might be wondering how you can implement them in your own business. The restaurant industry (and hospitality in general) has undergone a massive digital transformation in the wake of the pandemic but these are not short lived trends - they are long term shifts in how we do business. This article offers everything you need to know about QR code menus; we’ll explain the upsides and downsides, and walk you through the implementation process. By the end of this article, you’ll be ready to launch your own QR code menu strategy.   What is a QR Code Menu? Let’s start by defining what exactly is a QR code menu. A QR code menu is a digital menu which you can access by scanning a QR code with your smartphone. When you scan the QR code, your smartphone will open a webpage where your menu is hosted. Many restaurants place QR codes directly on tabletops, on small paper cards, or on plastic placards. A hotel could display a QR code on the front desk or somewhere in every guestroom. Each QR code directs to a unique webpage, so, for example, you could configure one QR code to direct to your lunch menu and another to direct to your dinner menu. Unlike traditional paper menus, digital QR code menus can offer functionality besides simply showing menu items, such as the ability to pay or submit feedback. And these digital menus can deliver a slew of benefits for restaurant owners, managers, staff, and guests that make them a nice upgrade from paper menus.   Key Benefits of QR Code Menus Why would a restaurateur forgo paper menus for QR code menus? Let’s explore the most compelling benefits that these tech-enabled menus can provide. Easy to modify: One reason that restaurateurs love working with digital menus is that any menu changes can be completed with just a few clicks and published immediately. Run out of a menu item? You can simply hide it from the digital menu. Need to fix a typo? No need to reprint the menus. Want to adjust pricing based on day of week and meal period? That’s all possible with digital menus.  Beautiful and strategic menu design: In addition to seamless changes, QR code menus are designed to be as easy to read as possible, and you can take advantage of promotional tools that let you highlight specials or recommended pairings. Safe and contactless: In light of the pandemic, customer preferences have shifted overwhelmingly toward contactless options, and restaurant menus are no exception. Customers don’t want to touch the same paper menu that other guests have just handled. QR codes let your customers access the menu while only touching their own smartphone. Cost- and time-savings: When your staff don’t need to print and organize paper menus, they will have more time to interact with customers or take care of other side work. In addition, QR code menus enable quicker turnover of tables since  More eco-friendly: Are your guests conscious of their impact on the environment? Unlike paper menus which must be thrown away after use or anytime the menu changes, digital menus have no environmental consequences.  Faster service: In a quick-service restaurant setting where customers order at a counter, or at a busy bar, QR code menus can enable customers to browse the menu at their own pace without needing to interact with a server first. Eliminating the need to ask for a menu can accelerate the speed of service. Collection of customer data: Some digital menu platforms come with a suite of analytical features. You might be curious to see how much time customers spend on each menu page, or perhaps you want to test a few variations of photos, formatting, or menu descriptions. Digital menus can offer insight into customer behavior in ways paper menus cannot.   Considerations for QR Code Menu Decisions It’s important to note that QR code menus are not the perfect solution for every business. Before deciding to switch away from paper menus, you’ll want to think carefully about some possible downsides. First, in some restaurants, paper menus are part of the experience. A Michelin-starred establishment might want to continue using high-quality paper menus while crafting a romantic ambiance with no smartphones in sight. In this case, QR code menus would actually detract from the experience. In addition, if your restaurant guests aren’t very tech-savvy, or if your restaurant doesn’t have a strong cell signal, then QR code menus might cause more problems than they solve. In addition, be mindful that introducing any new feature, like digital menus, will require training and at least a few days to get accustomed to the system, so you probably don’t want to launch your QR code menu during peak periods.   How to Implement QR Code Menus If the benefits of QR codes sound appealing to you and you’re excited about using them in your venue, you’re probably wondering where to start. Let’s outline the process to implement QR code menus, starting from the beginning. Decide what functionality you need. QR code menu platforms range from simple to complex. Is your restaurant a no-frills counter-serve joint that only has a few menu options? Maybe a simple QR code menu would be best. Or maybe your restaurant has several different menus for different day parts, and you’re interested in as much analytical muscle as possible. Then you might want to opt for a cutting-edge digital menu system with all the bells and whistles that offers integrations with your other on-site software. Do you need a POS integration, PMS integration or just mobile wallet and credit card processing checkout.  Different mobile ordering systems serve different use cases.  Regardless of the dining experience at your establishment you should be thinking about digital menus as a strategy and not just an online menu PDF. Understand your budget. How much do you want to spend? The most basic QR code tools are free, or you can pay a monthly subscription or small percentage of sales for more robust functionality.  With free QR code menus typically  you get what you pay for (or don't).  PDF food menus typically mean that you can't save cost on labor, can't monetize through highly profitable digital upsells.  In most use cases more premium partners have very strong ROIs - just look at what industry sweethearts like Sweetgreen, Dominos and Starbucks have been able to do by investing in digital. Choose a system. Once you’ve decided what you’re looking for, it’s time to choose a software vendor. If you’re going the low-cost "cheap and dirty" route, you might opt for Eater.Menu or HappyTable. For more sophisticated mobile ordering technology with integrations and checkout/payments via contactless QR code menus, you’ll want to look into Bbot, Crave, and RoomOrders. Each system has a slightly different user experience, so we recommend taking advantage of some free demos to try a system before you buy it. Create your menus. Now for the fun part! You can now start building your digital menus. You’ll want to add menu item descriptions, pricing, and upload photos if the system allows. You might want to create separate menus for different meal periods, drinks, desserts, and more. Some systems let you highlight special offers or seasonal menu items, so you can leverage some marketing tactics. Other systems might simply prompt you to upload a PDF menu. Train your staff. Before putting your QR codes into the wild, you’ll want to train your staff so they are familiar with the system and can help guests use it. For example, if a guest is less tech-savvy, your staff should be able to help them access the menu. In addition, you can train managers on the process for making updates to the menu. Display your QR codes. Customers can only scan your QR codes if they can find them, so you’ll want to show the codes in convenient, obvious spots, like on tabletops or inserts within plastic displays. Modify your menu as needed. After launch, anytime you need to make menu changes, you just need to update the digital version. Eager to bring QR code menus to your hotel, restaurant, or venue? There’s no better time to give customers a safe, contactless, and user-friendly way to access your menu.

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50 Online Ordering & Food Delivery Statistics that Will Blow Your Mind

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

In the midst of all the challenges that the hospitality industry has faced over the last year, one segment of the industry is booming: food delivery. As people hunkered down at home, after getting tired of baking sourdough bread, they turned to their smartphones to order food for delivery or carry-out. Perhaps you’ve heard a little about the growth of food delivery and mobile ordering (or maybe you’ve experienced it firsthand), but this article will give you a comprehensive look at this exciting new frontier of hospitality. Ready to be wowed? Let’s jump into 50 astonishing statistics about online ordering and food delivery.   Just how big is the food delivery industry? The food delivery industry in the United States has tripled in revenue in the past five years. In 2015, 66 million Americans ordered $8.7 billion of food delivery; in 2020 food delivery revenue surpassed $26 billion and 111 million users. The sky’s the limit! The US food delivery market shows no signs of slowing down. It’s predicted to further grow to $43 billion by 2025. As of March 2020, 38% of American consumers had ordered food via a food delivery app. By March 2021, 47% of Americans had used a food delivery app, illustrating just how significantly the pandemic affected the food delivery industry. Food delivery is here to stay; in 2021, 53% of survey respondents - and 64% of millennial respondents - say that food delivery and takeout are “essential to the way they live.” In a November 2020 study conducted by the National Restaurant Association, 66% of survey respondents said they had ordered takeout or delivery food for dinner within the past week, and 47% of respondents said they had takeout or delivery for lunch within the same time period. Nearly everyone orders food delivery in the US; Gloria Food’s study found that 86% of Americans had ordered food delivery at least once a month. The pandemic was a big player in customers’ dining and ordering habits. 68% of consumers say they’re more likely to order takeout in 2021 than they were pre-pandemic. Although food delivery companies are seeing impressive growth, many customers still prefer to order directly from restaurants. By the end of 2021, revenue for restaurant-to-customer delivery is expected to reach nearly $72 million, while revenue for platform food delivery orders is expected to hit $79 million. Across all demographics and geographic areas studied, US consumers prefer to order food delivery directly from the restaurant, when given a choice. Restaurants were quick to adapt to the changing industry after the pandemic began. 81% of fine dining restaurants, 78% of family dining establishments, and 77% of fast casual restaurants added curbside takeout to their operations after March 2020. Nearly half of restaurateurs said they added food delivery options.   What are the biggest food delivery companies? Food delivery and online ordering apps were some of the most popular app downloads in 2020. UberEats and the McDonalds app both saw 82 million global downloads in 2020, and DoorDash saw 44 million downloads. By comparison, Google Maps had 88 million downloads, Tinder had 74 million downloads, and eBay had 51 million downloads in 2020.  Food delivery fans weren’t the only ones gobbling things up in 2020. After global food delivery heavyweights Just Eat and Takeaway.com merged in an $8.5 billion deal, the new Just Eat Takeaway conglomerate acquired another big player, Grubhub, for $7.3 billion. Let’s not forget about another big shakeup in the US food delivery market in 2020: UberEats bought Postmates for $2.65 billion in July 2020. Although UberEats takes a 20 to 30 percent cut of each order, the company is still not profitable. Just how unprofitable is UberEats? In Q2 2020, the company lost $232 million.  In 2020, DoorDash beat out UberEats for the largest share of the food delivery market in the US. By the end of 2020, DoorDash controlled 45% of the food delivery market, with UberEats at 22%, Grubhub at 18%, and Postmates at 8%. Talk about a swift rise to the top! In 2015, DoorDash’s share of the US food delivery market was just 5%. In 2020 the company snagged a 45% market share and nearly $3 billion in revenue. Food delivery market share varies widely by city. In March 2021, in San Francisco, DoorDash had 71% of the city’s food delivery sales. In Miami, however, UberEats was the biggest player, with a 55% share. And in Los Angeles, Postmates made up 32% of sales, while in most other cities it barely reached 5%. By the end of 2020, UberEats was available in around 1,000 cities. In 2021, the company expects to be active in 6,000 cities globally. UberEats is the world’s largest food delivery platform in terms of number of users. Globally, 66 million people used UberEats in 2020. DoorDash is the most popular food delivery platform in the US, with about 18 million users. Food delivery app users aren’t particularly loyal. Over 40% of UberEats, Grubhub, and Postmates users also used DoorDash during Q1 2021.   What about online ordering directly from restaurants? Orders placed via their mobile app make up nearly a quarter of all sales at Starbucks locations in the US, according to the coffee company’s Q3 2020 report. Domino’s is another chain experiencing massive success from its mobile app; as of late 2020, mobile orders comprise around 75% of Domino’s sales. Most online orders, about 60%, are made on smartphones. For that reason, it’s important to ensure your restaurant’s website and online ordering system are optimized for small screens! With a surge in orders placed online for both delivery and take-out, quick-service and fast casual restaurants like Burger King and Chipotle have designated specific “lanes” for more efficient order pick-up.  Pizza restaurants were pioneers in the online ordering space. Pizza Hut first experimented with online ordering in 1994(!), then launched the segment’s first mobile ordering app in 2009. It didn’t just let customers order their favorite pies; customers could also play in-app games while they waited for their delivery to arrive. 23% of restaurants say their customers are more engaged with their online offerings now compared to pre-pandemic times, showing a shift toward digital ordering channels. In a recent study conducted by Square, two-thirds of customers say they would prefer to order food via a restaurant’s own mobile ordering platform, rather than using a third-party. Out of that group, 61% said their preference for direct ordering was because they wanted to support the restaurant. Online ordering systems can help you test menu changes much more easily than with traditional paper menus. Some digital ordering platforms support A/B tests like changing photos or pricing on some customers’ menus, but not on others, so you can test ideas before officially rolling them out.   Who’s ordering, how are they ordering, and what are they ordering? Many food delivery customers are using food delivery apps for the first time. A study of over 100,000 food delivery app reviews mentioned phrases like “first time” 36% more frequently in 2020 than in 2019. Millennials and Gen Z are spending a significant chunk of their paychecks on food delivery or at restaurants. After groceries, dining out is the second-highest monthly spending category for both generations. According to a 2020 National Restaurant Association study, millennials are the food delivery generation. Three-quarters of millennial respondents had ordered takeout or delivery for dinner in the past week. Millennials aren’t the only generation who loves their takeout, though. The National Restaurant Association found that while just 41% of baby boomers had ordered delivery last week during their March 2020 survey, that number grew to 60% when the same group was surveyed in November 2020. Sausage or pepperoni? The average pizza order placed online is 18% larger than pizza-lovers who ordered over the phone.  But it’s not just pizza; revenue from online orders in general is around 23% higher than an in-person order.  No love for the humble onion! The most popular special request on UberEats in 2020 was “no onion.” Runners up were “extra sauce” and “no tomatoes.” 35% of delivery and takeout customers - and 53% of millennial customers - said they would be more likely to order from a restaurant that offered to-go alcoholic beverages. In a 2019 study of top complaints related to food delivery, 17% of consumers said their food arrived not warm or not fresh, and 16% said their food arrived late. Customers don’t always place their mobile orders with a few taps of a finger. About 14% of people have used voice assistants, like Siri and Alexa, to order food delivery while they’re driving. Google has integrated food delivery options into Google Maps and Google Search listings for restaurants, making it even easier for consumers to find restaurants that offer mobile ordering and delivery. Mother’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and Halloween are the most popular holidays for food delivery, according to a 2020 DoorDash report. Speed is the name of the game. The average delivery window for food is around 35 minutes, but 27% of people say they would be willing to pay extra for their food to arrive faster. The volume of off-premises food orders placed online surpassed the volume of phone orders back in 2017. French fries were the most popular menu item in the US on UberEats in March 2020, while cheesecake was the most frequently ordered dessert.   What else is happening in the food delivery and mobile ordering space? A May 2020 Wall Street Journal study found that out of all off-premise restaurant sales, 53% were carry-out orders, 38% were drive-thru orders, and only 9% were delivery orders. Loyalty programs can be a major driver in revenue growth at restaurants. 39% of consumers said they would spend more at restaurants that offered some sort of loyalty perks, but only 62% of restaurants studied had loyalty programs. Boo! Although they sound like a room in a haunted house, ghost kitchens are proving to be a very real success story. By the mid-2020, the US was home to over 1500 ghost kitchens, which are commercial kitchens that serve food to customers exclusively via delivery. Ghost kitchens aren’t always standalone locations; sometimes “virtual restaurants” will rent kitchen space from hotels or restaurants during their off-hours. As long as customers continue to use food delivery services, ghost kitchens aren’t going to disappear anytime soon. Euromonitor predicts that ghost kitchens will grow to a trillion-dollar industry by 2030. A 2019 survey found that 21% of food delivery customers suspected a driver of taking some of their food order, and 85% of consumers wished that restaurants would use tamper-evident packaging. More consumers want contactless solutions, as demonstrated in a late 2020 survey that showed consumers’ top payment options were contactless credit cards (43%) and contactless debit cards (39%). Digital ordering allows restaurant customers to pay online and avoid paying in-person entirely. Technology doesn’t only offer extra convenience for consumers; 95% of restaurateurs say technology helps them run their businesses more efficiently.   What statistics were most surprising to you? As the food delivery and online ordering trend continues to grow, there are surely more surprises in store.

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HITEC Dallas Report: 50+ Hospitality Technology Innovations You Need to Know

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 months ago

When hotels began to reopen with skeleton crews mid-way through the pandemic, the broader industry started to think about hospitality technology as the key driver to running stronger businesses despite weaker resource availability. Hotel Tech Report traffic data illustrates that despite a sidelined hospitality workforce - there is more interest in hotel technology than ever before.  HTR recently publicized platform data showing 270% growth from March 2020 to 140k+ monthly hoteliers in May of 2021 (14-months into the pandemic). Vendors are innovating in lockstep with hotelier demand for new technology.  Last week our team headed to the first HITEC event since 2019 to scout the latest innovations and save you time staying up to date with recent hotel tech product launches.  This article is packed with the latest tools being developed by top tech firms to help you optimize and grow your hotel business. While researching for this article, our team reviewed 96 different product/feature launches to curate the list below based on the most exciting innovations in the market and then synthesized the top 50 innovations into six key trends. Please reach out via live chat if we've missed a critical innovation or trend! WHAT'S INSIDE THE RECAP: Leveraging tech to tackle labor issues The guest experience is getting a major digital makeover Mobile checkin is the new black Guest data management is in the spotlight Empowering commercial leaders to level up their strategy & efficiency Vendors are gearing up to help simplify payments for hoteliers   Trend #1: Leveraging tech to tackle labor issues If you ask any restaurant, retail shop or hotel owner these days 'how's it going?', their first response will likely be to tell you how difficult it is to find and retain talent.  The mass service industry layoffs and furlows at the beginning pandemic coupled with the elogated impact on the global travel industry from the Delta variant caused a mass labor exodus from the hospitality industry.  While city centers continue to feel the impacts of the pandemic, many drive market destinations in many geographies are booming so much so that some have even surpassed pre-pandemic REVPAR levels such as the California wine country and are struggling to staff back up.  Whether you're in a booming drive market destination and need labor now, or you will need it when city centers begin to recover--the labor struggle is real and tech companies have their sights set on coming to the rescue by launching new products and features to help do everything from retain your talent more effectively to manage your property with fewer staff. M3 Launches labor.  Designed for hoteliers on the go, M3’s Labor Management app, M3 Labor, allows hospitality professionals to quickly access their hotels’ labor information and adapt in real time to the labor needs of their properties. Not only do employees get up-to-date visibility of their schedules and work histories, but property managers also have access to labor variances and managing employee time details, all available in the palm of their hand. UniFocus ShiftGenius.  ShiftGenius is a unique scheduling and shift filling feature that introduces flexibility and control for employees and covers the needs of the business. Operators find coverage faster and know that the RIGHT people are filling the shifts. Hotel Effectiveness launches CoverageFinder™: Hotels are experiencing a “coverage crisis” - they cannot find the labor to address the needs of the hotel, the guests, or the team. CoverageFinder makes it easy to identify available labor from within the cross-trained hotel team, the portfolio’s “sister” hotels, and contract staffing firms. Turnover is a massive problem. The Risk Retention Dashboard identifies which associates in each department are at risk of leaving and recommends specific actions that managers can take to prevent turnover and avoid the costly impact of a lost team member. HelloShift launches a housekeeping app. Housekeeping Management app is a quick and efficient way to see at a glance the status of all of the housekeeping tasks at your hotel or property. In one view, know which rooms have been assigned and prioritized, and which rooms still need to be assigned. The quick and simple drag and drop functionality and the ability to bulk reassign rooms make housekeeping management problems a thing of the past!   Harri launches Carri Chat & Apply.  Carri is an AI-powered chatbot built to assist hiring managers in screening, accessing, and coordinating interviews with viable candidates. Carri transforms traditional job applications into meaningful conversations to engage candidates and improve talent acquisition efforts. eTip launches digital tipping product.  eTip helps hotels to better attract, retain, and motivate staff with an app-less tipping and review platform. With eTip, staff receive an increase in compensation and a boost in morale, guests enjoy better service, and managers can act on guest feedback in real time. Beekeeper launches housekeeping app.  Beekeeper Work is an intuitive app that will transform how your team tends to daily Housekeeping operations. Team members on their feet can get things done with a simple tap of their finger. No training. No I.T. set up. No corporate approvals. Just easy technology rolled out in days. And it’s available in every language too so no one gets left behind.   Trend #2: The guest experience is getting a major digital makeover While the pandemic will certainly not be looked back upon fondly, some good undoubtedly has come of it.  While there are so many areas that human interaction can add value in the guest experience, there are also so many areas that manual processes, wait times and antiquated systems have plagued the guest experience for decades and the pandemic gave the industry the nudge that it so desperately needed.  Whether that's digitizing compendiums to reduce paper waste and create interactive experiences that generate revenue, ridiculously seamless contactless grab and go stations to meet guest needs in real time or in-stay sentiment analysis to identify and recover from service glitches on the spot--vendors continue to rollout new features and tools to help you leverage technology to become one of your hotel's greatest assets when it comes to delivering a unique and differentiated guest experience. Whistle Digital Guest Book.  Whistle introduces a configurable digital guest compendium for a completely contactless experience. Hotels can now offer a rich portal and directory of information, which guests can access through messaging. Impulsify Contactless grab and go.  Impulsify announces the arrival of their completely contactless grab-and-go kiosk for lobby retail transactions. Their ShopPoP kiosk now provides a QR code to give users the option of going "Touchless" when purchasing items at their increasingly popular self-service pay stations used by the hospitality and multifamily industries. Flexkeeping Automated Daily Hotel Report.  The Automated Daily Hotel Report by Flexkeeping contains all critical information hoteliers need to know to ensure that their team is meeting their set standards. The report provides data on every department - from room service, housekeeping, and maintenance performance all the way over to guest complaints and service slips. EasyWay launches Guest Sentiment Powered by OpenAI.  EasyWay AI is now able to automatically detect guest sentiment and act accordingly. For example, if EasyWay AI identifies that a guest is happy and is a potential brand ambassador, it will automatically send them a survey on TripAdvisor, and ask them to share their amazing experiences on social media. Hub OS launched 'DND' and 'Make up Room' statuses for Guest Touch.  The system now also allows hotel guests to set their rooms into 'Do not disturb' or 'Make up room' statuses on their own mobile device by scanning a QR Code in their room.  This provides added convenience for guests while helping hotels more efficiently allocate staffing resources. GoMoment launches Ivy Offer.  Ivy Offer lets hoteliers extend unbeatable offers such as extended stay, late checkouts, and food & beverage offers to their guests via text messages. These offers are conversational, personalized, targetted and appropriately timed (when guests tell us they are enjoying their stay, we offer them the chance to stay an extra night at a 20% discount), resulting in repeat, incremental profit. Guests read 98% of Ivy Offer messages within 3 minutes (based on client data). Niio and Samsung debut digital art stream for public spaces. Samsung and Niio art are partnering to bring easy access to digital art on-demand to Samsung Profesional Displays to transform any screen into an engaging digital art canvas. With access to thousands of digital artworks from the world’s best artists, Samsung clients can seamlessly display individual works of their choosing or play art streams curated by mood and style, 24x7 to one or multiple sites. Turnkey solution without requiring additional hardware or rights management. Bookingwhizz Automated Guest Journey with Whatsapp. The CRM module connects directly with the PMS and/or channel manager, automates guest notifications and promotions from predesigned campaigns. The hotel or group can schedule these notifications based on their business needs. SensorFlow launches SmartREM (Smart Room Energy Management Solution).  When guests leave the room empty with the HVAC running, SensorFlow's occupancy sensors and smart thermostats communicate this data to the gateway. The gateway then uses AI to react to the real-time occupancy data and automatically switches off the HVAC or adjusts it to a more energy-efficient setting to save energy, without needing any manual intervention from hotel staff. If guests leave the room with the HVAC running and the pool/balcony doors or windows are open, the HVAC is then automatically adjusted to ensure proper ventilation and prevent condensation issues while saving energy. When SensorFlow's sensors detect that guests have returned, our gateway then automatically resets the HVAC to the guests' previous settings. VenueLytics launches 24/7 AI Smart Concierge.  VenueLytics provides industries first fully integrated 24/7 AI Smart Concierge to automate contactless guest engagement, housekeeping, maintenance and other guest requests across WiFi, WhatsApp, SMS, WebBot and Facebook Messengers. Hotelinking launches WiFiBot.  Hotelinking developed a system called WiFiBot that automatically solves the Internet connection problems using IoT (Internet Of Things) technology and without the need for staff or a technician to intervene.  This solution proactively monitors any device connected to the network regardless of the vendor to detect performance issues, and continuously evaluates components to maintain and optimise their availability to avoid downtime or network failures. Moreover, it analyses all relevant information related to the use of WiFi by guests and its proper functioning and performance.   Trend #3: Mobile check-in is the new black If you are an HTR regular then you probably know what we think about hotel brands building their own tech, but to give some credit where credit is due back in 2015 Starwood identified the potential of mobile checkin and invested heavily in it because they saw what was coming.  If we can checkin for a flight on our phone, why can't we checkin for our hotel rooms? The reality is that mobile check-in is another area that has boomed during the pandemic with contactless everything as the new normal.  As hardware comes down in cost and mobile checkin goes mainstream, vendors are sprouting up left, right and center creating new opportunities for hoteliers to offer mobile checkin solutions empowering saavy hoteliers to be more prepared for guest arrival, reduce front desk wait times, go contactless and even get some new checkin tricks up their sleeves with digital signatures, payment authorizations, upsells and more. Maestro launches mobile check-in.  Allows Maestro customers to enable guests to check-in on the fly, on their own personal mobile device, with no 3rd party app download required, creating a self-serve environment from their own device. GTRIIP Launches Selfie Check-in.  GTRIIP processes hotel check-ins using our OCR engine to read international passports and local photo IDs. We use our face verification engine powered by computer vision to match the face (with a selfie) against the photo ID. This check-in process can be completed on the web. Onres launches mobile check-in.  Enables Onres customers to increase incremental revenue by up to 30% with Contactless [Early] Check-in and Late Check-out, Upgrade your Room, and Add Add-ons. RoomKey PMS launches mobile check-in. 100% digital paperwork built into the RoomKey PMS from mobile check-in through check-out.  Automated payment and room release to better inventory management CODE2ORDER launches COVID-19 Vaccination Pass & Test-Certificate.  Hotel guests can upload their vaccination pass or test certificate during the online check-in at hotels or during their stay at the hotel (required for hotel stays in Germany). The upload can be easily done by using their own Smartphone without further app downloads. Hotels can check the uploads in the CODE2ORDER Backend.   Trend #4: Guest data management is in the spotlight Whether you look at Tiktok in social, Visa in payments or Netflix in entertainment--its clear that companies who have harnessed the power of unique customer data have realized massive profits.  The strange thing is that the hotel industry sits on a treasure trove of travel spend and guest preference data yet most hotels have still only scratched the suface of what they can do with this data because ultimately you need the right tools, structure and processes to actually act on it.  The good news is that if anybody knows just how valuable and powerful data can be its tech companies, and they're gearing up to help you harness one of your company's most valuable assets.  Hapi launches Hapi Connect for Salesforce.  Hapi Connect integrates hotel companies' data into Salesforce Cloud environments in real-time, helping hoteliers to innovate using the world’s leading CRM. Hapi Connect for Salesforce allows companies to centralize data and tailor each step of the guest journey, driving loyalty and increasing conversion. Oracle Hospitality Integrations Platform.  The Oracle Hospitality Integration Platform (OHIP) offers hotel operators and integrators unprecedented access to all of the capabilities that OPERA Cloud has to offer. By making available over 3 thousand REST APIs and a full self-service experience end to end, operators and integrators can now design, build and release their integrations in matters of days rather than weeks or months thus accelerating time to market and reducing costs. Cendyn adds DIY content management to eLoyalty. Cendyn’s eLoyalty now puts customers in the driver’s seat to seamlessly manage and control the content that’s served to their members with a full-service loyalty solution for any type of hotel or hotel brand.  Prior to this update, eLoyalty had static workflows for serving content to loyalty members but now hoteliers can log into a CMS to create different pathways and serve different content journeys or offers based on characteristics of various segments within the loyalty program. Bookboost launches CRM.  Guest messaging platform Bookboost also extended it's product to offer guest segmentation and email marketing. Manage your first-party customer data to track interactions to create personalised guest messages. Utilise a single system to manage guest engagement and build strong relationships. Clairvoyix Launches Hospitality Solution for Opera in the Cloud.  The Clairvoyix Hospitality Solution for Opera in the Cloud brings fully integrated transient sales and marketing automation to Oracle Hospitality customers. Utilzing the Oracle Hospitality Integration Platform, Opera in the Cloud customers can immediately start direct marketing to valuable past guests as past guest data is automatically transferred to the Clairvoyix Hospitality Solution. Guestjoy launches repeat customers.  Guestjoy launched a hotel CRM system for marketing managers in smaller hotels that helps them to build a customer database who is interested in getting special campaigns and offers. The tools they are using only allow them to set up a newsletter without knowing the background of a customer. Duve Guest Segments. Duve's Guest Segments allow hoteliers to send different messages to different guests, based on their profile and data you’ve collected from them. This includes reservation details, personal information, and more.  With Guest Segments, hotels can use both pre-scheduled or instant messaging to create a message to specific guests and provide an improved guest experience. Datavision DVGuest Analytics.  Datavision is adding powerful guest analytics features to our comprehensive business intelligence platform. Guest data is extracted and combined from a single source (PMS) or a variety of additional sources (Spa, Golf, Dining, CRM, etc.) supporting a 360-degree views of guest value, spend patterns and stay behavior. LaaSie launches Helix. Laasie has extended its core Reward Marketplace technology beyond the hotel website and booking engine, to bring personalized rewards to email campaigns. Each recipient of the campaign receives a uniquely personalized reward offer that resonates with his/her interests, demographics, and purchase behavior. iReckonU launches IKnowU Customer Data Platform. The IKnowU Customer Data Platform emerges as Ireckonu’s latest way to leverage its proven CORE Middleware. Synchronizing with your various PMS, CRS and other service delivery systems, IKnowU will become your system of record for clean, consolidated guest profiles. IKnowU’s powerful features include match & merge, identity and privacy management, subscription enrollment, communication control, behavioral and event data, and AI-assisted segmentation. It can also bring in third-party data. Simplotel Guest Connect.  Simplotel Guest Connect helps hotels convert their website content (promotions, and offers) into an email template with a single-click. Also, with a property management system integration, hotels can send mails and upsells to guests who book through any channel.   Trend #5: Empowering commercial leaders to level up their strategy & efficiency The term commercial refers to the concept that while historically there have been silod departments within hotel companies like revenue management or marketing, these walls are quickly being broken down as departments become more deeply entertwined.  The catalyst for this evolution in decades old operating model has undoubtedly been technology and the transparency, access to information and interconnectedness that it has unlocked.  This is not the first time breaking down departmental silos to emphasize a more hollistic commercial strategy has been a key theme of one of HTR's innovation recaps and it certainly won't be the last.  Impala Contracting.  Say hello to fast and easy hotel direct contracting. Whether it’s signing new deals or managing existing ones, Contracting by Impala enables direct contracts between hotels and tour operators, agencies or corporate travel platforms. We take away the costly integrations and lengthy negotiation cycles to negotiate deals in days, not months. List your hotel for free IDeaS Profit Optimization.  Profit Optimization for IDeaS G3 RMS considers any combination of servicing costs, ancillary revenue and associated margins, and acquisition or channel costs. This approach enables hotels, resorts, casinos, and more to get the most profitable guests into their property, while maximizing other inventory beyond the guest room, such as restaurants, bars, retail, and activities. HotelIQ Decision Cloud.  With the new HotelIQ Decision Cloud, hoteliers can organize data, analyze it, plan next steps, and collaborate with their team and across their organization. In doing so, we aim to give hoteliers the lenses they need to pull insights from complex data sets and make more intelligent decisions. RateGain launches Demand.ai. RateGain launched an AI powered demand forecasting tool, that helps hoteliers and other travel companies track hyper-local demand and the underlying factors impacting demand – thereby helping them optimize their commercial strategy. Event Temple Launches Chain Management Dashboard.  Event Temple’s Chain Management Dashboard is an above property sales enablement tool for chains and multi-property management groups. Organizations now have a hub to view bookings, leads, accounts, contacts, reports, and manage sales across multiple properties. Pace launches Restrictions Management. Take control of your business mix. Use restrictions to control your business mix. Pace will suggest when to close out corporate rates and maximise revenue from your transient business. Avvio launches allora ai Hotel Booking Retention Engine.  Avvio developed a Hotel Booking Retention Engine that sits within the allora.ai booking engine to counteract the rise in hotel room cancellations. They did this by identifying at risk bookings, and alerting hoteliers in an actionable format, so that measures can be taken to protect bookings.  allora.ai’s Hotel Booking Retention Engine uses machine learning and data science to assess cancelation risk for every individual booking on the books. MeetingPackage launches group pricing module.  MeetingPackage offers venues to sell in a transactional way via their own channels and through distribution. Venues are able to manage pricing of Meetings & Events services flexibly from one centralised place to all distribution channels. For example, minimum spend requirement, meeting package price per delegate or meeting room price per hour, half-day, full-day. Including seasonal prices and corporate negotiated rates. ProfitSword enhanced currency conversion functionality.  ProfitSword has updated the application to support viewing reports in any currency desired. As part of this update, we allow multiple exchange rates to be defined for any currency pair, depending on your reporting needs. The firm added flexibility to reports allowing a user to choose an exchange rate based on the data being reported eg; balance sheet data converted with a month end exchange rate, accounting data with month average, and budget with an annual exchange rate all in the same report. InnRoad launches new Pace and Pickup reports.  innRoad's new Pace & Pick Up Reports are designed to give users easy access to their property's performance with the click of a button. Users can compare their performance over time and see if they are above or below on their occupancy, revenue, and rooms sold. Avalon Analytics launched automated PowerPoint presentations. One of the pain points of a revenue manager is the time spent preparing for weekly and monthly meetings. This remains true at hotel-level and above-property level, where you may need to prepare a market performance review for senior executives, ranging from VPs Operations to Owners. Generate 20+ PowerPoint slides for your weekly revenue meetings and month-end owner meetings within minutes. Avalon allows you to load entire presentations that are always up-to-date and ready to be delivered to your inbox.     D-EDGE Launches MediaGenius. D-EDGE provides hoteliers with an all-in-one platform to manage and monitor digital media campaigns: search, metasearch, display, and social media. With MediaGenius, hoteliers can easily follow the evolution of income and bookings generated via AdWords, analyze their campaigns’ performance, and fine-tune their strategy. The Hotels Network Launches Bench Direct. BenchDirect by The Hotels Network is an interactive analytics platform for hotels to benchmark their direct channel performance compared to the market and competition. The tool provides hotels with competitive insights across more than 30 key metrics specifically related to direct bookings. VoucherCart launches enterprise. VoucherCart Enterprise is a SaaS software product used by international and national hospitality operators with responsibility for marketing, sales, and revenue across multiple business units/member organisations. It enables them to promote and sell vouchers, gift cards, memberships, and tickets (pre-paid instant delivery) associated with their products and services and manage these centrally across all member organisations allowing cross-organisational redeem and usage, while also supporting voucher management and sale at member organisation level. Hotel Res Bot Launches AI Channel Manager. Many distribution partners such as Secret Escapes don't have interfaces to transfer bookings automatically, which means they simply send an email and reservation staff must manually enter these bookings into the PMS. The HERA AI Channel Manager reads those incoming emails and automatically pushes them to your PMS directly or via your CRS or traditional Channel Manager. Trend #6: Vendors are gearing up to help simplify payments for hoteliers If you follow the tech world, you know that payments are big money.  You don't have to look far to see a massive head turning round like Stripe's $600M Series H (who even knew series H was a thing...), Affirm's market debut 100% pop or Plaid's (almost) $5B+ merger with Visa that was later blocked by regulators.  Other than being the lifeblood of every business on the planet, payments infrastructure is so immensely valuable because its extremely challenging to develop and maintain compliance.  While there are tons of payments solutions out there, there are few that have truly built out domain specific offerings specifically for the hotel industry to meet its unique challenges (and opportunities) and hotel tech companies are spotting the opportunity. Cloudbeds Payments. Hotel payment processing has been complicated for too long. Cloudbeds Payments provides easy, transparent and contactless payment processing that is fully integrated into the Cloudbeds Hospitality Platform, saving your property time and money. Bbot Tab Sync. Keep guests happy and servers relaxed with Bbot Tab Sync, a seamless addition to the Bbot Order + Pay solution. Plus, activating Tab Sync for in-venue and in-room dining guests gets you exclusive access to our BOGO deal on handheld devices! Adyen partners with Shiji to simplify hospitality payments.  This new integration simplifies the payment process for hospitality businesses by removing the need for a list of platforms and suppliers which usually includes separate processes for property management systems, food and beverage point of sale, and guest experience platforms not to mention the different payments service providers for each. SmartHOTEL launches SmartCONNECT for Payment. SmartCONNECT for Payment ensures that hotel guests’ payments can be made quickly, securely, and hospitably. With the click of a button, payments for online and offline bookings are automatically billed by the payment service provider of choice and processed directly on the guest folio of the hotel’s Property Management System (PMS). dailypoint™ Launches Payment Link. The dailypoint™ Payment link is part of the Booking Manager. It allows hoteliers to automate payments and process them securely according to PCI and PSD2 regulations. Implementing the payment link relieves the reservations department and minimizes the risk of fraud since no more credit card data is being processed directly or stored at the hotel. RoomOrders Launches Digital Tourist Hubs.  The RoomOrders digital tourist hub is an ordering and payment network of hospitality providers (hotels and resorts connected to surrounding vendors in a revenue-sharing model) to protect from accommodation giants like Booking dot com and AirBnB and restaurants from delivery giants like UberEats and GrubHub as well as excursion and tours agencies like Expedia and TripAdvisor.

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8 Ways a Hotel PMS Improves Operations and the Guest Experience

by
Jan Hejny
3 months ago

Shortly after COVID restrictions were eased, I went on a short golfing trip to Austria. I booked a well-known boutique hotel with a SPA and a fantastic restaurant surrounded by vineyards. I found out later that many other people had the same idea, as the hotel was fully booked for the weekend. Well, good for them, I thought. Anyway, when I arrived, it was raining, and I didn't bring my umbrella with me. So I came into the hotel soaked, hungry, and in desperate need of a shower. Unfortunately, out of the two check-in desks available, only one was operating, and the poor guy was trying hard to check in all the arriving guests as quickly as possible, while doing his best to have a cordial chat with them. Make no mistake: I'm sure it wasn't his fault that we had to wait for five minutes before he finished with the previous guest. When finally my turn came, the receptionist spent a tremendous amount of time staring down at his computer. I tried to ask him a few PMS-related questions, to understand why it was taking so long (of course, he didn't have any idea I knew a thing or two about PMSs), but I started to feel bad for the people waiting behind me, so I stopped any efforts to communicate with him, and I wasn't even told where and until when I could get my breakfast or where the SPA was. And that was the moment I realized, at least on a personal level, that there's something intrinsically wrong with hotel tech today.   When Technology Breaks Down Now, I am sure that, if you’re a frequent traveler like me, you have similar horror stories. According to a Qualtrics survey, 57% of poor hotel experiences are down to unfriendly staff. Problem is that, very often, hotel staff is unfriendly because they’re overworked, especially post-COVID, when properties are operating with skeleton staff. Here’s where technology should help, but the Austrian one is the perfect example of a case where it didn’t, and this happens way more than we, in the industry, like to admit. Moreover, tech should not only improve operations, but guest experience as well. Bad news is that, often, it fails in both fields. When your tech stack increases workload and waiting time at the reception (or in any other department, for that matter), you know you’ve got a problem. Technology is fallible, whatever you may think, and choosing the wrong software can heavily penalize your operation. A couple of years ago, a curious news story was published: the Henn-na hotel in Japan, known mainly because a good part of its employees are actual robots, had to "fire" 243 of them for doing "a bad job." One staff member, interviewed by The Mirror, stated: "It's easier now that we're not being frequently called by guests to help with problems with the robots." Well, this is an extreme example, but it’s not uncommon to see hotel staff having to find hacks and workarounds to make things work. If you’ve ever had a job in the hotel business, you know exactly what I am talking about.   The Role of the PMS in the Hotel Tech Stack Now, at the core of hotel operations, there’s always the PMS, so this is where the majority of problems start: bad integrations, lack of built-in features, etc. Choosing wisely is crucial, but not always easy, especially because hoteliers may be, paradoxically, unaware of the problems they need to solve. This is not due to the fact that hoteliers are bad entrepreneurs, quite the opposite! Problem is that being a hotelier means having to manage many operational aspects of the job, most of which are very complex and detailed. A General Manager, for instance, will obviously have to prioritize certain tasks, rather than spending hours to go deep and understand a certain technical problem. The thing with PMSs is that they’re the kind of software which is used by several different departments, so everyone has an opinion on it, yet a partial one. Sales & Marketing will likely never have to insert a group reservation, while the front office department won’t have to deal with MICE requests. In my experience, General Managers are the ones which can green light the implementation of a new software, coordinating, understanding and synchronising different departments’ needs, but chances are that their vision is limited, due to too many things on their minds, too. And we’re back to the hotel in Austria: somebody picks the wrong software, the system makes the life of all (or, at least, some) employees miserable, there’s less time to focus on the guests (which is even worse than the previous issue, while, of course, unhappy employees are unlikely to make guests happy), and… Well, you see where I am going with this, don’t you?   How PMSs Can Improve Operations and Guest Experience So, when picking a PMS, you should always be asking the one million dollar question: will this system make my life (and the life of my staff) easier so that they can make my guests happier? Knowing what to look for in a PMS can make a huge difference, so make sure that you understand what a property management system can (or can’t) do for you while trying to go into details during the process. Because if there’s anything we have learned over the past two decades, is that the devil is always hidden in details. Here are some of the areas where a good PMS can actually make a difference for both the hotel staff and guests: Reducing the workload during the check-in/out process. A publication by Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research studied guests’ tolerance of delays during check-ins, and found that the “breaking point” for US guests is as short as five minutes. There’s an interesting discussion on Quora titled “What is the actual average length of time (in minutes) for hotel check-in and check-out?” Of course, the method is far from scientific, but it’s a fascinating read. According to the discussion, a best-case-scenario-check-in is at least 2-3 minutes. You know what that means? That if an American guest has two persons in front of him, he will likely leave a pesky review… Self check-in kiosks and apps can dramatically improve the check-in/out experience, yet most PMS do not support the technology; Remove friction during payments. It’s not uncommon to find hotels that still manage credit card payments manually. Usually, it goes like this: the back office department receives a booking, and they have to log in into the extranet, find the reservation, get the card, switch to another page for the CVC, get the physical terminal POS, type the total amount and the card details, wait for the transaction to go through. If this doesn’t look like a big deal for you, try to time your staff while they do it. I doubt it will take them less than five minutes per transaction. Now, let’s say you receive 25 reservations a day: that’s over two hours wasted just to charge credit cards. Not to mention what happens if the card does not work, you have to ask for a new one and start the process all over again. A PMS can solve the issue with payment automation proprietary features, or by integrating to third-party providers; Integrate invoicing systems. It may sound crazy in 2021, but I have seen too many hotels where the reception has to ask accountants to issue an invoice and, on the other side, too many accountants typing numbers manually from PMSs reports into their accounting systems… A simple integration will save hours of manpower every day; Connect your PMS to your SPA system. In most cases, if a hotel guest wants to book a treatment at the desk, the reception has to call the SPA, check availability and then book. Integrating the two systems will dramatically reduce workload, and guests will also be able to book and check availability directly online; Get smart in F&B. The adoption of QR codes and online ordering increased dramatically due to anti-COVID guidelines, and this is a prime example of a system that can dramatically reduce waiting times and improve guest experience. Customers are able to order (and pay) immediately on their phones. This reduces the waiting time (the waiter does not have to come and take your order or bring you the bill). Customers are in full control of the timing, and restaurants can allocate less staff to serve the same number of people, saving money. Moreover, thanks to Kitchen Display Systems (KDS), orders are not printed on paper but are shown digitally on a screen in the kitchen. KDS can also measure the average time needed to cook a meal, improving efficiency and customer satisfaction; Housekeeping digitalization. Another feature that COVID dramatically accelerated is the adoption of housekeeping apps, both built-in in the PMS or provided by third-party vendors. They reduce workload and make communication between departments easier. Hoteliers can also benchmark housekeeping staff timing to optimize operations and - particularly important for green hotels - drastically reduce the use of paper. According to a study, hotels use almost 2B A4 sheets per year in the United States only, meaning that 268,000 trees are chopped down annually only to fulfill the hotel industry's needs. It's the equivalent of 15 New York Central Park worth of trees cut every year! Automated emailing. Even though this is a feature we tend to associate with CRMs, some PMSs provide built-in functionality to communicate with guests pre/mid/post-stay, improving both the guest experience and increasing revenue coming from ancillary services proposed in the emails; Connect. Connect. Connect. It may sound crazy, but there are still a lot of hotels without a proper 2-way-integration between the PMS and the channel manager. It goes without saying that linking the two systems will dramatically reduce workload and bring human error down to virtually zero.   Understand the Tradeoffs of New Technology to Maximize Impact Paul Virilio once stated: “When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck; when you invent the plane you also invent the plane crash; and when you invent electricity, you invent electrocution... Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical progress.” This is true for hotel tech as well, that is why implementing technology just for the sake of it it’s never a good idea. Choosing any software, and PMSs, in particular, requires a complete understanding of the property’s current (and future) needs. The risk with picking the wrong system is to end up like the Austrian hotel I wrote about at the beginning of this piece. At HotelTime Solutions, we provide tailored solutions and follow our customers during all the phases of the implementation, making sure that they can focus on what they do best: taking care of their guests.  

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The Rise of Mobile Ordering: From Trend to Core Hospitality Technology

by
Hotel Tech Report
4 months ago

It’s more convenient than ever to dine out or order in, thanks to the proliferation of food delivery apps and technology that makes ordering and payment a breeze. In fact, 80% of Americans have used food delivery apps before, and about 60% order food via an app at least once per week. Ordering food from your phone is becoming widely accepted in all facets of the hospitality industry, aligning with a shift toward the “low-touch economy,” the contact-free trend that accelerated as a result of the COVID pandemic. As more people want a contactless experience, and as people become more comfortable with technology in the hospitality space, mobile ordering will be an integral part of the future of the hotel and restaurant industry. Traveler preferences have evolved since the beginning of the pandemic, shifting toward contactless, on-demand services. These changes extend beyond hotels, as more people have become accustomed to food delivery, video calls, and even virtual fitness classes as socially distant substitutes to in-person interaction. The contactless trend appears to be here to stay. Retailers have adopted contactless payment terminals, supermarkets offer contactless grocery pick-up, and many hotels now offer contactless check-in and on-demand housekeeping service to limit physical touchpoints. At hotels, guests also want the ability to order food without speaking face-to-face with restaurant or room service staff and to be able to enjoy it while they work remotely in the lobby, under the shade of a cabana, or in the privacy of their guestroom. RoomOrders was founded in 2017 to provide this convenience for guests, and the company was originally designed to digitize room service operations at the Hilton Boston Downtown. Success in Boston led RoomOrders to expand to hotels across the world, working with brands like Marriott and Accor in addition to Hilton. RoomOrders is now in over 300 leading hotels and resorts across the US, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. At the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, the RoomOrders team saw an opportunity to bring their technology to not only hotel room service operations, but also to hospitality businesses ranging from restaurants to health and beauty centers, convenience stores, and tourist attractions to meet the desire for contactless service. As RoomOrders CEO Eugene Jones says, “mobile ordering is moving quickly from a trending sector to a booming sector.” Tech-enabled options are becoming increasingly popular, and rather than being viewed as a novelty, a tech-forward experience is an expectation. Customers are also becoming more savvy. Consumers in the F&B space are accustomed to ordering everything from their mobile devices whether it’s a new pair of Nike shoes, their groceries, or even a Tesla.  It’s only natural that these guests expect room service on their smartphones, too. With mobile ordering, a customer can browse the menu, place an order, and pay on their smartphone without the need for in-person interaction with staff. “Imagine the possibility of ordering a refreshing drink while relaxing by the pool...without having to get up to approach a bar to order,” says Jones. But mobile ordering isn’t for everyone. Jones recognizes that some guests relish the in-person interaction or don’t feel comfortable placing orders on their smartphone for a variety of reasons. The good news is that “guests have the option to order the old way or the new way, leaving customers with the ultimate freedom of choice.” Even when you implement mobile ordering, you can serve customers the way they want to be served. Mobile ordering doesn’t just benefit customers - it’s good business: increased revenue, more efficient and helpful staff, and higher guest satisfaction. Hotel businesses that partner with RoomOrders often report increases in overall revenue and average order volume. Why? RoomOrders eliminates friction in the ordering experience, so it’s easier than ever for customers to purchase food and drinks. Without mobile ordering, customers might decide not to order from your outlet if they see a long line or if they can’t flag down a server. Mobile ordering removes these obstacles and makes ordering effortless. Plus, the RoomOrders interface allows you to configure upsell options, specials, and tagging that make your menu items more compelling. Someone who might have skipped a side dish or dessert might be convinced to try it when they see it as a recommended pairing with their entree. In addition to highlighting the potential for revenue growth, Jones debunks a common misconception about mobile ordering systems. In our interview, he says “a digitalised hotel is not necessarily void of human labor, it actually frees up humans to be more hospitable.” The futuristic idea of a hotel run by robots isn’t going to be the future of your hotel with mobile ordering. The opposite is true; by letting technology handle menial, repetitive tasks like taking orders and running payment, your staff can focus on more important work, like building meaningful relationships with guests. Menu updates are seamless with a digital system like RoomOrders. Without a mobile ordering system, staff would need to reprint menus every time a menu item changed. RoomOrders allows you to make menu updates with just a few clicks so you can always keep your menus up-to-date and accurate. Overall, mobile ordering helps you deliver a better guest experience. It makes the ordering process more efficient at your restaurant, and, as Eugene discusses in the interview, it can also give guests an alternative to a potentially frustrating experience like waiting on hold for room service. Ultimately, guests who have a better experience at your hotel spend more and are more likely to return which is why this once trendy technology is becoming a global staple. Eager to learn more about mobile ordering? Read our interview with RoomOrders’ CEO Eugene Jones below     This content was created collaboratively by Hotel Tech Report and RoomOrders.   Tell us about the founding story behind Roomorders. In a nutshell, RoomOrders was founded in 2018 after one of the co-founders Haris Dizdarevic, who is an IT expert, sat with his restaurant owner friend in the Boston Hilton and suggested the hotel could digitalise its operations with self-service ordering by guest mobile phones. We were arguably the pioneers of QR code ordering in hotel rooms and this was a major move from fixed phones. However, QR code ordering has opened up new revenue streams by expanding ordering and payment opportunities outside bedrooms to the entire hotel or resort complex, as well as neighbourhood by connecting with community vendors. During the corona crisis, we realised digital ordering via QR codes or NFC tags could be done from anywhere outside hotels as well, from poolsides to beaches, rooftop bars to golf courses and neighbouring vendors, from restaurants to health and beauty centres, supermarkets and tourist attractions.   Why has mobile ordering been growing so rapidly in your opinion? Apart from opening up new revenue streams, your hotel will have an edge over rival destinations by restoring confidence in health and safety as a digitalised, low-contact hotel offering self-service ordering and payments via guest smartphone. Today's guest expect on-demand service and integration with surrounding vendors allows QR code ordering and payments of almost anything from anywhere on the hotel or resort site. I think Asia, which has totally skipped credit cards and where people no longer have a use for wallets, is indicative of the future awaiting us. When I see the corona QR passports and vouchers, it is obvious that mobile ordering is inevitable and that everything will be digital, powered by lightning broadband communication. I think we will be ordering from holograms appearing in thin air...  It will be like snapping fingers to be served in an instant! Many hotels believe that QR codes and pdf menus are a “good enough” solution for contactless ordering. Contrary to that belief is documented reality that guests hate downloading pdfs or any apps and feel teased if they cannot order as well as pay after seeing digital menus. The beauty of digital ordering platforms is that guests have the option to order the old way or the new way, leaving customers with the ultimate freedom of choice   How should hoteliers feel about automation of routine tasks? There is always the danger of technology replacing human touch in hospitality and this can be seen as a positive in terms of cost savings for hotels during tough times, yet a loss for social interaction and engagement - something we have traditionally enjoyed as consumers. However, a digitalised hotel is not necessarily void of human labor, it actually frees up humans to be more hospitable,entertaining or helpful in the process of delivering excellent guest experience.   How can hoteliers distinguish between mobile ordering software solutions? Mobile ordering is different to room service as mobile ordering is remote and unrestricted, it can be done from anywhere across a hotel or resort, rather than just a hotel room. Room service on the other hand is limited to just a room and the guest experience confined to a room.  Imagine the possibility of ordering a refreshing drink while relaxing by the pool, or a finger-food snack, without having to get up to approach a bar to order or even pick up orders. Our research shows orders skyrocket throughout the whole day, especially hot days, in this particular scenario. Hotels can’t be, or have, everything for guests, so RoomOrders is connecting hotel guests with surrounding vendors of all sorts of products and services on or off-site, expanding the guest experience by bringing anything, anywhere to their feet wherever they may be around the hotel or resort.   What has been the impact of COVID on the state of mobile ordering? COVID has been a double-edged sword. While it has suspended business for many hotels, particularly during lockdowns, it has also increased the urgency of digitalization, particularly contactless service, ie QR code ordering and payments. Mobile ordering is moving quickly from a trend sector to a booming sector, and in that respect we see it as a bigger revolution than food delivery - which is basically restricted to fixed addresses and extremely expensive. I think Covid-19 has sped up the dawn of a new age, the fourth industrial revolution. Everything will be digital and accessible remotely, starting with our jobs. The adoption of new technology, particularly QR code ordering and payments will move from a trend to boom sector and like Asia, we will no longer carry credit cards or wallets. Our mobile phones will be a lifeline, the centre of our world and essential to survival. Accessing our phone as fast as possible will be key, so QR codes may be replaced by something faster, but right now it seems RoomOrders will be busy improving people’s lives by fast ordering and secure payments. I honestly cannot see a hotel or resort without RoomOrders or a competitor service.   Are there misconceptions amongst hoteliers in this emerging category? It’s true, hoteliers think it’s expensive, when it is actually free, zero capital investment. Other fallacies include preconceptions that guests want human contact with waiters or that older people are technophobes. The reality is that newer generations want immediate glorification, on-demand service. Amazon and food delivery has changed their expectations, to the point of even compromising quality for efficiency. Seniors are actually the fastest growing segment of adopters of social media, Sure they were a bit slower, but when they sense that old methods are fading, they adapt just as easily as other groups, provided that the experience is intuitional, or in other terms, easy.   Are there any stories that stick out to you where RoomOrders delivered outsized impact for clients? Just before the pandemic, I arrived on a late flight into Las Vegas to speak at a conference about the threats facing hospitality in the digital era, and I was really hungry. As the hotel didn’t provide room service in the evening, I picked up a flyer and ordered pizza delivery by phone. I had to go outside, passing restaurants in the casino lobby and there were about 20 or so others waiting for their delivery too, even though it was past midnight already, There was so much confusion, it was a horrible guest experience that gave us the idea to not only integrate all the surrounding restaurants of a hotel, but other vendors too. It also gave me fodder for my speech, which offered RoomOrders as a way to combat the threat of aggressive food delivery services preying on local restaurants and hotel guests. The last year has demonstrated without dilemma that we have deeply entered the era of contactless ordering and payment  

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The Ultimate Guide to Hospitality Technology (2022)

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Did you know the average small business uses 40 different software applications, and the average hotel uses around 20? In an ideal world, every system in your hotel’s tech stack would help you automate tasks, reduce costs, grow revenue, and deliver a five-star guest experience. But we understand that getting up-to-date on the myriad of technology solutions available to hotels can be daunting! Where do you even start? In this article, we’ll introduce you to each piece of the hotel technology landscape, from revenue management to reputation management and everything in between. Drawing on insights from over 10,000 hotel software reviews written by hoteliers across the globe, this article will also highlight some top software vendors in each category. For more detailed testimonials and additional software choices, you’ll want to click over to the full list of vendors. Let’s dive in!     9 Hotel Operations Software Tools that Drive Efficiency This category of software includes the most essential technology for hotel operations: checking guests in, reconciling accounts, handling payroll, and getting feedback from guests. Your hotel’s size and complexity will determine which systems you need; small, limited-service hotels might be fine with a PMS and a payment processor, but a large resort could benefit from each category of software. 1. Property management systems (PMS): The PMS is the central hub for hotel operations. In this system, staff can check guests in and out, create and manage reservations, pull financial reports, manage guest profiles, and more. According to user reviews and analysis of system functionality, the top PMSs are Cloudbeds, Clock, and HotelTime, though there are over a hundred more great systems on the market. 2. Staff collaboration tools: Hotel staff are scattered across different floors, buildings, and shifts, so a communication platform is necessary to keep everyone on the same page. Systems like hotelkit, Monscierge, and ALICE can replace analog methods like walkie-talkies and logbooks, plus they can track tasks, reduce manual errors, and increase efficiency. 3. Housekeeping and engineering software: These tools digitize the operations of your housekeeping and maintenance departments, with the ability to automate task assignment, monitor real-time status of rooms or issues, and track task completion. Top software in this category includes hotelkit, Flexkeeping, and ALICE. 4. Guest feedback and surveys: Do away with the paper comment cards and give guests a digital platform to voice their feedback, such as GuestRevu, TrustYou, or Revinate. Not only are these tech solutions easy for guests to use, but they also allow hoteliers to customize, automate, and analyze guest comments and complaints. 5. Accounting and reporting: If your hotel accepts payments from guests and issues payments to employees and vendors, then you’ll benefit from an accounting and reporting system like myDigitalOffice, M3, or Omniboost. A modern accounting system reveals opportunities to reduce costs and maximize revenue, plus makes your accounting team more efficient with automated reports and integrations with other on-site software. 6. Payments Processing: Most guests prefer to pay for their reservations with credit cards, but a payment processing system is necessary to get the funds from the guest’s card into your hotel’s bank account. Payment processors like Profitroom, Mews Payments, and Adyen charge a small processing fee, but they make getting paid as seamless as possible. 7. Labor management: Hotels have dozens, if not hundreds, of employees, so scheduling is no easy task. Software such as Hotel Effectiveness’ PerfectLabor™, M3, and UniFocus include forecasting, insight into labor costs, and integrations with payroll and timekeeping systems.  8. Meetings and events: Whether your hotel has one private dining room or several floors of ballrooms and breakout spaces, meetings and events software can support every step of the sales and planning process - and the event itself. Highly rated meetings and events software includes Proposales, Event Temple, and Blockbuster by Duetto. 9. F&B and point-of-sale systems: The pandemic accelerated demand for features like contactless menus and online ordering, so there has been a huge wave of innovation in the F&B software space. Vendors like RoomOrders, Bbot, and Oracle’s MICROS can help restaurants modernize their operations, cut costs, reduce reliance on delivery platforms, and strengthen relationships with customers.   7 Revenue Management Tech Systems that Improve Yield Strategy The goal of revenue management is to sell the right room to the right guest at the right price, and revenue managers leverage a variety of software to achieve their RevPAR goals. 1. Revenue management systems (RMS): The secret weapon of any revenue manager is the RMS; this system analyzes historical data, market supply and demand, and forecasts to recommend the rates most likely to maximize revenue and profitability. You might also hear revenue management software like IDeaS, Duetto’s Gamechanger, or Atomize referred to as “yield management systems” or “pricing engines.” 2. Channel managers: A channel manager is the link between a hotel’s property management system and distribution channels like Booking.com, Expedia, and the GDS. Channel managers such as SiteMinder, Cloudbeds’ myallocator, and D-EDGE’s Smart Channel Manager allow hoteliers to make changes in one system, their PMS, rather than managing rates on each channel individually. 3. Central reservation systems (CRS): Larger hotels or hotels that are part of a chain or group might use a CRS to centralize all bookings, whether they’re made by call center staff, the hotel’s own website, or a third-party channel. The CRS will then send reservations to the PMS for room assignments. Popular CRSs include Pegasus, Windsurfer, and GuestCentric CRS. 4. Rate shopping and market intelligence: A key to revenue management success is selling competitive rates, but how do you know what your competitors are selling? Rate shopping tools, like OTA Insight, Siteminder Insights, and D-EDGE RateScreener, do the heavy lifting for you and present competitor rates and market forecasts in user-friendly dashboards and reports. 5. Parity management: OTAs ask hotels to provide rate parity, meaning selling the same rate across all channels, and, as a hotelier, you don’t want OTAs to sell cheaper rates than your hotel’s website. Parity management tools, like OTA Insight, FornovaDI, and Triptease give hoteliers access to dashboards that monitor rates across all channels in real-time. 6. Business intelligence: Revenue managers love data, but sometimes all that data is too much for Excel to handle. Business intelligence tools offer better solutions for slicing, dicing, and visualising data through dashboards and reports suitable for studying historical performance or predicting the future. Top BI applications include OTA Insight, Scoreboard by Duetto, and ProfitSage. 7. Upselling Software: Driving incremental revenue per guest is possible with upselling tools that automate the entire process - and use profile data and historical trends to serve the most compelling, personalized offers to each guest, like room upgrades or F&B items. Tools like Oaky, EasyWay Smart Upselling, and GuestJoy also enable hoteliers to start the upselling process before the guest arrives on property.   9 Guest Experience Platforms to Improve Satisfaction Scores How do you create a five-star guest experience in the digital age? A plethora of systems exist to delight guests, from contactless check-in solutions to modern in-room entertainment. 1. Guest messaging: Messaging platforms allow hotels to communicate with guests via their preferred platform: text messaging, email, or even apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Top-rated systems like Monscierge, Whistle, and EasyWay support automated messaging and one central dashboard where staff can respond. 2. Keyless entry: Keyless entry software enables a guest to unlock their room or other secure areas like gyms or pools with a wave of their smartphone. Systems like Mobile Access by ASSA ABLOY, FLEXIPASS, and Openkey.co offer integrations with PMSs for a seamless arrival experience. 3. Guest apps: Digitize your in-room directory with a hotel app like ALICE, INTELITY, or Duve. These downloadable apps put everything guests need to know at their fingertips, from contact info and directions to room service menus and local recommendations.  4. Contactless check-in: In the wake of the pandemic, guests prefer a contactless arrival process, and software like EasyWay, Canary, and Duve make it easy for hotels to pivot to a fully digital check-in. Functionality includes ID scanning, digital registration cards, upselling, payment processing, and arrival time coordination. 5. In-room tablets: Just like the smartphone replaced our digital cameras and rolodexes, an in-room tablet can replace your rooms’ telephones, directories, room service menus, TV remotes, thermostats, and more. Tablet providers like SuitePad, Crave Interactive, and INTELITY are even proven to increase guest satisfaction and revenue. 6. Energy management: These systems have two goals: decrease your hotel’s energy costs and reduce your hotel’s environmental impact. Vendors like Verdant Energy Management Solutions, Telkonet, and EcoStruxure are designed with hotels in mind and seek to not only decrease costs, but also enhance the guest experience. 7. Guest room entertainment: Today’s guests want more than local cable channels on their guestroom TVs; systems like Monscierge ZAFIRO IPTV, and Sonifi provide interactive content and entertainment for all types of hotels, plus additional marketing and engagement opportunities you couldn’t get with traditional TV. 8. Mobile ordering/F&B: Bbot, RoomOrders, SABA F&B Ordering, and other systems provide an essential piece of technology for hotels and restaurants: mobile ordering. With this software, guests and customers can access menus, place orders, and pay from their smartphones, and F&B outlets can better manage order fulfillment and deliver an end-to-end contactless experience. 9. Hotel Wi-Fi: What was once a premium add-on is now an essential amenity at hotels, especially with a growing segment of travelers working remotely. To offer reliable high-speed internet access, hotels can partner with vendors like Cisco (Meraki), Percipia, or GuestTek that offer implementation services and ongoing support.   9 Marketing Tools to Lower Acquisition Costs and Drive Direct Bookings Of course, you don’t need any of the software listed above if nobody knows about your hotel! Marketing software allows you to tap into new audiences of guests and build relationships with your existing guest base. 1. Booking engines: For hoteliers seeking to increase direct business, a booking engine is essential. This software allows guests to book reservations on your hotel’s website by displaying rates and availability from your PMS, then integrating reservations into the PMS. Cloudbeds, Bookassist, and SiteMinder offer some of the best booking engines.  2. Reputation management: A reputation management tool helps you request, track, analyze, and respond to guest reviews across sites like Tripadvisor and Google and your own surveys. Some of the industry leaders are TrustYou, GuestRevu, and Revinate, and they can even assist in increasing guest review scores by revealing insights about guest sentiment. 3. Website builders and content management systems (CMS): Outsourcing your website design isn’t necessary with a CMS; these tools allow you to build, edit, and organize website pages and content, and they support integrations with booking engines, payment processors, widgets and more. Smart CMS by Bookassist, Profitroom, and Net Affinity are some of the top website builders. 4. Direct booking tools: If you want to increase direct bookings, then an app like Triptease, Hotelchamp, or TrustYou can boost the number of shoppers who complete bookings on your hotel’s website. These tools let you display personalized messages, snippets of guest reviews, price comparison widgets, and more - all of which give guests reasons to book direct instead of on an OTA. 5. Digital marketing agencies: Don’t have the time or resources to handle digital marketing in-house? A digital marketing agency can lend their expertise to help your hotel succeed in search engine marketing, social media, content creation, and PR. Bookassist, Avvio, and Net Affinity are some of the leaders in this space. 6. Social media tools: Whether you’re trying to build a new audience or stay in touch with past guests, social media is an important component of your hotel’s marketing strategy. Social media vendors like BCV, Sprout Social, and Travel Media Group can help you achieve your reach and engagement goals. 7. Metasearch and ad tech: Metasearch channels, like Google, Kayak, and Tripadvisor, are powerful drivers of traffic to your hotel website - if you leverage them effectively. These sites require special connectivity and a bidding strategy, and tools like Bookassist, Avvio, and Koddi will help you manage budgets, track attribution, and understand market dynamics. 8. Website live chat/chatbots: Potential guests shopping on your website want answers now - without needing to pick up the phone. A chatbot, like one from Asksuite, Quicktext, or Whistle, use artificial intelligence to answer guest questions quickly and accurately, plus capture leads and increase conversion on your website. 9. Hotel CRM: Your database of guest email addresses is a gold mine - if you can leverage it strategically. A CRM system, such as Revinate, Profitroom, and dailypoint 360, allows you to capture email addresses on your website, send automated messages throughout the guest’s journey, create segments of profiles with specific characteristics, and analyze open rates, click-through rates, and conversion.   F&B and MICE The food and beverage and meetings and events components of the hotel industry have their own technology solutions too. Whether you’re trying to streamline your room service offerings or support citywide conferences in a maze of meeting spaces, you can find software to help you execute any type of service or event. 1. Restaurant management: In order to run a restaurant smoothly, restaurateurs leverage point-of-sale software to manage stock in real-time, handle transactions, reserve tables, run reports, and more. Popular restaurant management software includes Vento ePOS, Oracle MICROS, and Lightspeed POS. 2. Mobile ordering and room service: Contactless service is the latest trend in F&B, but it seems likely to become the norm. Mobile ordering systems, such as Bbot, RoomOrders, and SABA F&B Ordering, allow restaurants to upload digital menus, accept online orders, and receive contactless payments, and customers can feel confident in more efficient service and accurate orders and bills. 3. Meetings and events intelligence: This category of software aims to help hoteliers maximize their meetings and events business by understanding market dynamics, uncovering insights about attendees, and optimizing pricing and space usage. Top meetings and events intelligence tools include Blockbuster by Duetto, IDeaS (SmartSpace), and Get Into More. 4. Group sourcing and RFP tools: Without software to assist, the RFP process is tedious. RFP software, such as Proposales, MeetingPackage, and Venuesuite, moves this process online and helps you to automate it, making all the back-and-forth more efficient and helping sales teams reach their goals. 5. Event management: Software doesn’t just help your sales team seal the deal, but also to plan and execute the event itself. Event Temple, Tripleseat, EVENTMACHINE, and others provide functionality to send proposals, get e-signatures, manage traces, communicate with clients, and create and edit BEOs and agendas.   Looking for more resources on hotel industry software? Download the free 2021 HotelTechIndex Market Leaders Report.

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4 Hotel Tech Tools for the Post-Pandemic Travel Surge

by
Sandra Holland
4 months ago

It’s no secret that the travel industry was one of the most prominent industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the U.S Association of Travel reported that the United States lost around $500 billion in travel spend, and the United Nations World Tourism Organization reported international tourism plummeting between 20%-30% in 2020. But it’s not only airlines within the industry who suffered.  Hoteliers too, have felt the devastating effects on their bottom line. With more than one third of hotels claiming bankruptcy in 2020 and 77% laying off critical workers, McKinsey and Company declared hotels “among the hardest hit” during the pandemic.  2020 was undeniably a tumultuous time for hoteliers, however, with vaccines rolling out and safety measures improving around the globe, the future for hospitality looks more bright than bleak. In fact, it was predicted by Statista that “as a result of increasingly affordable flight rates and cheaper oil prices, passenger and cargo air traffic are estimated to grow substantially through 2039.” What’s more, McKinsey and Company predicted revenue per available hotel room (RevPAR) returning to very near pre-crisis levels in 2022. With a more than devastating past few years, the coming months will remain pivotal time for hotels to harness in order to prepare for a surge in travel and return to a thriving business. In that case and in order to prepare you for an influx of guests with new preferences, we’re sharing our top tools to consider, in a post-Covid world, so you can maintain efficiency and build customer satisfaction.   4 Tools to Consider For The Post-Pandemic Era Over the course of 2020, the number of customers opting for technology to combat face to face communication, increased radically. Social media grew as a customer service channel, check-in and check-outs became streamlined through online portals and QR codes created a safe and effective way for customers to place orders.  During the pandemic, technology wasn’t a nice to have, but rather a necessity in order to communicate and win customers. McKinsey even reported that the “responses to COVID-19 sped the adoption of digital technologies by several years—and that many of these changes could be here for the long haul.” In addition, according to Gursoy’s, COVID-19 Study 2 Report: Restaurant and Hotel Industry, the majority of hotel customers (70.42%) believe that the use of various technologies in service delivery is necessary in the COVID-19 environment in order to minimize human-to-human contact. Some examples include; service robots, digital menus that can be viewed on personal mobile devices via QR codes, contactless digital payments, keyless entry, touchless elevators, etc. For hotels, the next year will be a critical time to set a foundation of service and enhanced experience in order to win loyalty. In this next section, to support your hotel endeavours with the influx of customers, we’ll take a look at technology-based tools to help meet customer needs and streamline operations for maximum efficiency. Safety Satisfaction Measurement According to McKinsey and Company, when asked “what it would take to get [travelers] to travel again, most stated additional health and safety measures.” Post-pandemic, an integral part of improving satisfaction and maintaining hotel operations, will be the need for improved safety measures. This means, following regulations, taking extra precaution and then measuring guest satisfaction to see how you’ve performed. Measurement will be a key factor here, as you can understand critical touch points like room cleanliness, satisfaction with contactless check-in, ease of check-in with rapid tests, room service and more, to continuously improve the experience. Self-Service Options Even before the pandemic, people around the world were shifting towards a more digital approach to business interaction. The pandemic, in this instance, simply accelerated that pace, pressuring businesses to consider innovative ways to incorporate technology. For hotels, self service options will be paramount in a thriving customer experience. Whether it be in the form of a chatbot on your website answering frequently asked questions, a portal on your website for check in and check out, or an OnDemand ordering system for room service. By having self-service options in place, you reduce employee error and meet customers where they are for a streamlined journey.  Consolidated Messaging  As a result of shifting to digital capabilities, McKinsey also noted the acceleration of digitized customer interactions. A whopping 3 years ahead of its time, customers have quickly adopted contactless communication channels like guest messaging via text, Facebook Messenger, email, WhatsApp and more, in order to adhere to new regulations and increase the feeling of safety.  With these new preferences, a digital inbox, or messaging platform with a centralized inbox will become imperative to meet the influx of digital channels. It’s important to note that we are specifically referring to an inbox that can retrieve a number of different channel types in one consolidated inbox. This will make responding easy and efficient for employees, as toggling through different tabs or windows will become daunting in an era where customers are regularly channel hopping.  Task and Ticketing Software In addition to customer facing technology, back of house, or operational software will also become an essential tool to ensure all functions are running smoothly and managers are able to keep the experience thriving. For many hotels, ticketing software may already be in place, however for the post-pandemic era, an intuitive software will be essential. Not only does an intuitive ticketing platform provide housekeeping, reception, restaurant staff and more, accountable through real-time tags and mentions, but it also ensures everyone has visibility into tasks to identify time-saving opportunities. In addition, it adheres to contactless preferences. Employees can communicate via staff collaboration software without ever having to meet - lessening the number of interactions and bolstering employee confidence.    Final Thoughts Almost everyone, in some capacity, has been affected by the COVID-19 virus. It was unprecedented and many suffered. Although adopting technologies and being hyper aware of the current situation is key, it’s also very important to be cognisant of guest feelings and unease. For the post-pandemic era, flexibility and understanding should be paramount in the new travel experience. This means taking a new stance on cancellation policies, allowing flexibility with trip modifications, actively listening to your customers, acknowledging frustrations and making a point to do better. Working hand in hand with your biggest advocates, your team, and new guests, you can strengthen your operations and propel your hotel to deliver a memorable post-pandemic guest experience.

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RoomOrders: A Simple but Powerful Digital Menu and Ordering System

by
Hotel Tech Report
6 months ago

As we transition to a post-COVID world, hospitality businesses of all types are modifying their operations for one big trend: contactless interactions. For food and beverage outlets, software that supports digital menus and online ordering makes contactless interaction easy and intuitive. In fact, this type of software can even increase your average check value and streamline your ordering and delivery processes. If you’ve never used such software before, choosing a mobile ordering platform might be overwhelming. That’s why, in this article, we’ll introduce you to the features of RoomOrders so you can decide whether it would be a good fit for your hotel, restaurant, bar, or other F&B business.   How Does RoomOrders Work? Let’s first take a look at RoomOrders from the customer’s perspective. How would a customer use it at your restaurant, and what does it look like?   Guests Scan a QR Code to Access a Digital Menu on Their Device RoomOrder is a web-based app, so customers or guests don’t need to download an actual app to access your digital menu or place an order. Instead, a customer can click a link in an email or on a webpage, or they can scan a QR code to quickly open the digital menu on their smartphone. Burton Ockerman, the Director of Restaurants at the Desmond by Doubletree in Malvern, says the QR code feature is one of RoomOrders’ best features and is very user-friendly. Once a customer has opened the digital menu, they’ll see your restaurant or hotel’s name, logo, and cover image of your choice. Menu sections are clearly defined, such as Food and Drinks. For establishments with international clientele, the RoomOrders platform supports translation into most of the world’s widely spoken languages.     Similar to what consumers see in popular apps like Uber Eats and DoorDash, RoomOrders shows guests the average delivery time to set expectations.  Hungry guests are more likely to order when they see short delivery times. The digital menu is fully customizable - from headings to badges to photos - which we’ll discuss later in the article. By default, the layout includes space for large photos, which helps to encourage customers to place orders, assuming your photography makes your menu items look extra delicious!   Mobile Ordering Makes Room Service as Easy as Hailing an Uber When a customer is ready to order, they can select a delivery time of either “now” (as soon as possible) or a date and time in the future.     To order an item, the customer simply clicks on the item they want, and a box will pop up with some additional options, which the restaurateur can configure. For example, if the customer orders a steak, they might see options like “rare,” “medium rare,” “medium,” and “well done,” so they can be confident their steak will be cooked to their liking.     After specifying the quantity and adding any special instructions, the customer will click “add to cart.” The bell icon on the top right corner takes customers to their cart, where they will enter their location (either an area of your hotel/restaurant, like the pool or lobby, or a room number), then click “complete order.”   Hoteliers can send RoomOrders a list of all room numbers so the system can validate whether the room number is valid or not. For example, if your hotel has just 8 rooms on each floor, a guest who enters room number “817” will be prompted to correct the room number before the system will let them place an order. But rooms are not the only delivery location a hotel can specify. With RoomOrders’ new beach and pool area concept, guests are able to order anywhere on the premises of the hotel, such as a table at the onsite restaurant, a deckchair or cabana on the beach or at the rooftop pool bar. Simply add location to room number, such as deckchair 12, table 6, section B, thus providing seamless ordering opportunities to the guest, wherever they are. RoomOrders can integrate with point-of-sale systems for payment, but if you don’t have a POS or choose not to integrate, customers can charge the order to their hotel room (which most RoomOrders clients opt for) or pay with cash or credit card (via Stripe, which works with Apple Pay and Google Pay).   What Functionality Can Hoteliers Expect in the RoomOrders Dashboard? The back end of the platform is where you’ll manage operations, configure your menu and settings, and analyze performance. The manager version of RoomOrder is available on your web browser, or you can download a smartphone or tablet app.   Easy to Use Order Management with No Training Required Once a customer places an order, restaurant staff will see it pop up on their Orders dashboard. New orders placed for immediate fulfillment show in “New” status, while orders scheduled for a future date will appear in the “scheduled” section. Staff must click “accept” to confirm new orders. When the order has been delivered to the customer, staff click “complete order” to move it to “Delivered” status. If necessary, staff can cancel orders from this dashboard. The dashboard shows all relevant information about the order, including the items ordered, the guest’s location, and timestamps that show when the order was placed and accepted.     Update Your Menu in Seconds - No Need to Call Tech Support Operators can customize their cover photo, profile photo, and all text content visible on their digital menu. The menu builder is packed with options, so you can create a menu that accurately communicates your brand, menu items, and photography.     You can structure the menu however you want, with flexible headings and sub-sections. A useful feature of RoomOrders is adding time frames to menu sections, which lets you control the availability of menu items that might not be available all day. For example, your breakfast menu can be available between 7am and 10am only. Menus will be visible during their off-hours, but customers cannot place orders for items that are unavailable based on the time frame. Anastasiia Horashchenko of Hilton’s Kyiv property told Hotel Tech Report, “RoomOrders has a very simple backend, which is a great feature for the current ever changing environment. We are able to be more flexible in adjusting to our guests' needs. The frontend that our guests see gives an opportunity to showcase all of our dishes and attract guests with the look of dishes they are about to order.”     It’s also possible to add special badging (the orange tags in the screenshot below) to help some menu items stand out. Badges could include “Chef’s recommendation,” “Vegan,” or “Gluten Free” text, and more.   In addition to menu titles and text, you can configure add-ons and options for each menu item. RoomOrders offers three choices for these add-ons: extras (like adding chicken or salmon to a salad for an extra charge), selection (a choice between wheat and white bread), or ingredients (if a customer wants to request no onions, for example).     Drive More Incremental Revenue By Programming Relevant Upsells Both Ockerman and Anastasiia Horashchenko, Assistant F&B Manager at Hilton Kyiv, say that the cross-sell capability is one of RoomOrders’ most powerful features. This feature allows you to suggest complementary menu items to customers who order certain dishes. For example, if a customer wants to order a pasta dish, you could suggest a glass of red wine or an order of tiramisu. Cross-selling is proven to increase average check value since many customers find the suggestions too good to pass up.     When building the cross-sell options in the RoomOrders dashboard, you choose between using your top selling items as the cross-sell items, or you can customize cross-sell items for specific dishes, like our pasta example above.   Optimize Menu Offerings with Real-Time Reporting How do you know if your average order value is growing if you can’t measure it? RoomOrders offers a slick dashboard that gives operators insight into a few key metrics: total sales, number of accepted orders, average order value, on-time percentage, and completion percentage - all of which can be seen for specific dates. The dashboard also shows a list of your most frequently ordered items, but there’s not much more information about them, like the most popular times of day for orders of certain items. “RoomOrders has been such an easy to use platform for our business especially now, during these unprecedented times. The flexibility of the software has allowed us to make changes and updates to our menu seamlessly”, says Mark Grzelak, Manager of the Fin Point Oyster Bar & Grille at the Hilton Boston Downtown/Faneuil Hall.     RoomOrders lets you choose settings that make the most sense for your restaurant or bar. You can turn the gratuity field on or off, choose the default language, and configure tax categories, for example. Other settings include a post-order review request, which sends a survey to customers to request feedback, which is not shared anywhere publicly. You can also build a prompt that asks customers to share their experiences on Facebook.   RoomOrders is a Great Option for Hotels and Restaurants Looking to Go Beyond QR Code Linked PDF Menus The greatest consumer hospitality brands like Starbucks and Dominos understand the power of mobile ordering as we’ve previously covered - finally hotels are catching up.  Mobile ordering is proven to increase average order values and drive better guest experiences by delivering the level of convenience we all have at home while staying in a hotel. RoomOrders packs a lot of value into a light, user-friendly interface. The contactless interface has tangible benefits for a F&B business of any size. As Jeffrey Speelman, the Director of Operations at the Hilton Kyiv, mentions, the digital menu functionality allows his team to save time and money by not needing to print new paper menus every time they make a change to a dish or a price. Both Speelman and Horashchenko say that RoomOrders has a fantastic support team who help in every step of the onboarding process, so even less tech-savvy operators can feel confident using this new kind of software. Hilton’s Jeff Speelman told Hotel Tech Report, “the Room Orders application has options to push upselling when selecting an item which drives up the average check, as well as highlighting and showing attractive photos of dishes. Besides the fact that the volume of room service orders has significantly increased due to Covid and a price increase of approx 5% was implemented we see a significant increase in our average check.  When comparing our Average check YTD vs previous year we see an increase of 17.9%.” Mobile ordering software is a must-have technology in 2021 for hotels looking to stay ahead of the digital transformation curve and RoomOrders is a great choice for hotels and restaurants that want to deliver a user-friendly, customizable option for guests with a lot of functionality.   This content was created collaboratively by RoomOrders and Hotel Tech Report.

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4 Common Hospitality Tech Stack Pitfalls (and How to Avoid Them)

by
Matthew Lynch
6 months ago

In the age of technology, connectivity is critical to property and brand-wide success—and it affects every aspect of rising industry trends around security and mobile payments. To find the right vendors and put the right tech in place, you need the right information. You need to know how the tech you’re looking at is going to integrate with the systems you already have in place. So before anything else, view the tech through the lens of your SOPs. What would a day in the life of your staff look like? Are there significant gaps in functionality or connectivity? If so, it’s a no-go right from the start. If not, it’s time to dig into specifics. Here are four key pitfalls for hoteliers to know and avoid in order to find success:   1. Hotels have more technology than ever—and when systems don’t communicate, the business consequences can be devastating. Between your PMS, POS, and staff collaboration tools, there’s plenty to worry about. Add in guest-facing tech and hotels can suddenly have more different solutions than time to sift through them. And if a single cog in the machine isn’t working in conjunction with other things, it can be a disaster for operations. Before signing up with a new vendor, make sure what they’re offering will integrate with the critical systems your property already uses on a daily basis. Your tech should maximize your staff’s efficiency, not add extra stress or unnecessary steps. To further ensure a quality integration, look for a vendor that builds their integrations directly. A more advanced integration is much more likely to be certified or otherwise validated by others.   2. When operations suffer due to bad integrations and siloed data, the guest experience suffers as well. When systems don’t communicate, information is either duplicated or never shared at all causing guest requests to never get fulfilled or get fulfilled twice. And this isn’t something staff can be expected to handle or track. The reality is, many simpler integrations pass less information which creates a shallow and less efficient system. Make sure you are getting integrations with depth—the more information your systems can share the better. If you want to ensure the vendor you are looking at has effective integration and consistent guest satisfaction, go to the source. Ask to speak to a customer who is currently using the integrations you need. Get your questions answered by someone who can vouch for how things affect the guest experience and day-to-day operations.   3. Security is absolutely essential to connectivity. Here’s what to watch out for on that front.  If a vendor declines a security audit, there’s a reason. A good place to start is by asking if their integrations meet industry standards from organizations like HTNG (Hospitality Technology Next Generation) or OTA (OpenTravel Alliance). Are they directly involved with those industry organizations? And find out if they have regular security audits. No confident vendor declines a security audit. They aren’t easy for anyone, but they’re necessary and they exist for a reason. You need to know if their system is secure. Declining an audit is a huge problem and an indicator a vendor may not be all they say they are. Seasoned vendors will understand that request from the beginning.   4. Payments are among the highest levels of integration to achieve and the thing everyone wants right now. Payments are the most in-demand integration: are the vendors you’re looking at prepared? If a vendor has payments capabilities right now, that’s an indicator they’re advanced and up to speed on the latest developments in hospitality. Ask: Do they process or facilitate mobile payments—namely, do they leverage a PCI-compliant payment gateway that has authorization and settlement capabilities specifically for lodging? If they do, huge green light. If not, a little worrying. Beyond the overall importance of connectivity and how it affects trends like security and payments, buyers should be looking for a trustworthy vendor above all else, and knowing which questions to ask during the buying process plays a key role in determining that. So there you have it: those are some of the red flags you should be watching for—but what are the green flags? If you want to find a vendor partner that goes above and beyond, there are two quick things to check for: a dedicated team for integrations and a product roadmap that demonstrates ongoing commitment to innovation. If a vendor has both of those things, they’re likely not just good at what they do, but great at it. For more in-depth vendor questions, check out 10 Questions to Ask Vendors Before Your Next Purchase.